Judging Criteria


Kindergarten-Grade 1 • Grades 2-3

Both primary groups (Kindergarten-Grade 1 and Grades 2-3) will have the following judging criteria, but will be judged according to their appropriate level and within their own division. Kindergarten and Grade 1 will be allowed to create a scientific display or demonstration instead of the same criteria as Grades 2 and 3 if they wish.

The intent of Grades 2 and 3 is to get the student to ask and answer a question about some facet of science. They do not have to do a research project. They should, however, have a specific question and answer that question. They will be judged on:

  • Appropriateness of topic
  • Data collection and interpretation
  • Clarity of presentation


Grades 4 - 5 • Grade 6 - 7

Grades 4-5: This age group should be establishing an understanding of the scientific method. The student should show both experimentation and book research in his/her project. A log book (containing dates, times, places of experimentation, lists of materials, procedures, thoughts, etc.) will be required. A formal report is not necessary, though the following information should appear somewhere in the project: a clear statement of the problem, experimental methods, presentation of data (graphs, pictures, etc.), results, summary, acknowledgments (including any parental help), and bibliography. They will be judged on:

  • Appropriateness of topic and question
  • Appropriate use of log book
  • Overall thoroughness of data collection and interpretation
  • Clarity and organization of presentation

Grades 6-7: At this level of age and experience, students should be exploring more creative attempts at problem solving that utilize the scientific method. The project should show evidence of laboratory and analysis skills, be supported by a well documented log book (required) as well as a review of scientific literature that relates to the question asked. Note: an adequate review will include the search results of several Internet search engines, but also library test/journal research.

Judging criteria for both groups will be as follows:

  • Research topic / question – the project will be judged on the originality and depth of the question asked, as well as the suitability of the question to controlled, scientific experimentation
  • Experimental design – the basic science relating to the experiment should be well understood and explained, and used to design an experiment that can be expected to produce relevant results. The potential variables should be identified and controlled in order to limit the variations of the results obtained, and a hypothesis shall be created based upon this understanding
  • Data collection and interpretation – good laboratory practices should be followed in collecting data, including evidence of accuracy and thoroughness. The data should be analyzed properly, utilizing appropriate tools and methods, and the analysis shall include the recognition of unexpected results. Do the conclusions derived reflect this analysis as well as an understanding of the underlying scientific principles?
  • Clarity, organization and presentation – the display shall clearly and accurately present the questions and underlying scientific principles involved, as well as the experimental procedures. Are the analysis and the resulting conclusions clearly presented, and do they flow logically from the question and experiment?

The Log Book

The log book should be an informal recording made each day. It should show the scientist's work. The log book should start with the observations and questions that are the beginning of planning the experiment. It should also include any reference material you use to help you, the materials and methods you are using to answer the question, and measurements and other data as they are collected.

Since the log book is a daily diary of the project, it is not expected to be neat (but it should be legible), and it should not be recopied. As when entering anything in a diary, a date and time should be entered each time you write in your log book. Every time you work on your project, it should be recorded in the log book.

At the end of the project, the log book should contain all the information you used to prepare the display and write the formal report (if one is required).

The Presentation

The poster presentation should include the research question, an explanation of the experiment, and the results. Data are best displayed in a visual way using charts, graphs, or diagrams. The presentation should be brief and clear enough for viewers and judges to understand the project.

Displays must not include any food items (human or animal), any mold, fungi, or microbial cultures, open flames, syringes, chemicals, highly combustible materials, or Class III or IV lasers. Photographs and sketches are preferred alternatives to the actual object. When in doubt, call NSIS at 250-638-0950 or 1-877-297-6747.